K E L V I N is a creative tour-de-force. A solo artist with a comprehensive vision for his music, he arrived at Island with the blueprint for some complex and seriously catchy pop songs, and built them up in one whirlwind of a day with our head engineer Joseph Cheek.
We were lucky enough to document the session for this episode of Island Life, as well as take five on the couch to discuss what makes K E L V I N tick. He's still very early in his studio career - and as you'll see, the level of creativity on show bodes pretty well for the future. Enjoy!
What inspires the music you create as K E L V I N? Especially the songs you're working on now?
I find inspiration often comes from small moments and motifs I notice around me. I often pull ideas from a sentence from a conversations or just watching people go about their lives and how they interact with the world around them. I pull these ideas and moments and try to expand on them and relating them back to my own experiences.
September, for example, was based on my own memories of loss as well as ones I’ve witnessed. My own include funerals I’ve attended and my own breakups and also just from witnessing people disconnect and reconnect. That’s what the songs about really, disconnection.
Drugs is a little bit more personal in that the inspiration for that song came from watching people around me get involved with drugs and the night party culture scene, and how that affected their relationships both romantically and platonically. In that way Drugs became more of a representation of youth party culture and how it slots into society and social connections.
Which instruments have gone into making these songs? And are there any particular sounds that you consider essential to your songwriting?
I don’t really consider any instrument or samples essential. With the digital possibilities of samples - whether they be organic or synthetic in nature - they open up the possibility where you don’t need to feature consistent instruments in music to have a consistent sound. That being said, I do write a majority of my music on guitar, which inevitably winds its way into the final versions of my songs.
How would you describe working with Joseph, and how does he interact with the vision you have for the music?
One of the key things I love about working with Joseph is that the communication is really good. Joseph and I spend lots of time just talking about each project production-wise, both in terms of production but also in terms of emotional content.
It’s important for me to not only have a producer who is technically very capable but also understands the wants and needs of each project, helping to bring out the messages and feelings each song is meant to convey. He’s great at identifying the key moments and bringing them to life and that’s really important to me.
It’s not just that Joseph can mix and produce really well, but that he takes the time to understand each project and gives you a really personal experience in the studio, ensuring your project delivers where it needs to.
What's one piece of studio advice you live by that you might pass onto other artists (especially solo multi-instrumentalists like yourself)?
My advice would be to try writing songs on different instruments. I have different relationships with different instruments which ultimately influence the sort of sounds and song structures I create. Changing up your creative process is a really good way to experiment with new ideas and create new songs with different sounds, because they weren’t created in the same mental or musical space as previous ones.
What's your plan for releasing this new music - how will we be able to hear it?
It will be out just about everywhere I can put it... stream it on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Bandcamp, your GameBoy and even your fridge.
so you're ready when the new stuff drops!